Village buy-out saves local store

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The Independent Online
A village which bought its own pub has made another foray into the property market - to snap up the local shop and post office.

Llithfaen's only retail outlet was on the market for two years without attracting a purchaser. But when store owners David and Carole Bonehill set a closure date villagers mounted their own buy-out campaign and raised pounds 22,000.

The largely Welsh speaking village on the Lleyn Peninsula, in Gwynedd, has an adult population of 250. At a public meeting 100 families backed the project by promising interest-free loans of between pounds 10 and pounds 300 each. Villagers also conducted their own market research to ensure the scheme was viable. A questionnaire sent to every home revealed that if the Shop- Y-Groes remained open villagers were prepared to spend pounds 60,000 a year there rather than travel seven miles to Pwllheli for their groceries.

The store is now in the ownership of Menter Yr Eifl, a limited company comprising 200 villagers. John Llyfnwy Jones, a teacher and chairman of the shop steering committee, said: "The shop is the heart of Llithfaen and people thought its closure would be the last straw for village life. Around 95 per cent of families in the village gave us loans and now the shop is getting back on its feet everyone says it's great.

"People are dropping in for their washing powder or whatever and even though the shop is only open in the morning at present takings are already very near the level predicted in the questionnaire."

Llyfnwy Jones was among a 60-strong group of locals who acquired another of Llithfaen's main assets - the village pub. They raised pounds 30,000 to buy the pub from a brewery and spent pounds 13,000 on repairs which they carried out themselves.

Now the pub talk in Llithfaen is that with 50 primary school age children in the village its about time they start a campaign to reopen the school.